Exploring Sandy Hook

Exploring Sandy Hook

Recently, my husband and I went up to Sandy Hook and the Gateway Recreational Area.

The Sandy Hook Unit is located in Sandy Hook which is on the northeast shore of New Jersey.   Why is it called the “Gateway”?

Photo was taken by me when we flew over it last year

The barrier peninsula forms the other side of the “gateway” to New York Harbor. The Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area is located in New Jersey. In total, Sandy Hook has 6 miles of beaches. There are also many historical sites, including Fort Hancock, Lighthouse,  Missile site, and military artillery batteries.

sandy hook gateway recreation area

There are Two Primary Sites:

Fort Hancock: served as part of the harbor’s coastal defense system from 1895 until 1974.  There are over 100 historic buildings still left today.

sandy hook gateway recreation area

sandy hook gateway recreation area

sandy hook gateway recreation area

sandy hook gateway recreation area

Walking through the Battery

sandy hook gateway recreation area

Sandy Hook itself contains seven beaches.  What I didn’t realize was there is even a nude beach (Gunnison Beach).  Since it was 40 and windy, no one was there.  Surrounding the beaches are salt marshes.  It looked like it was an excellent spot for both fishing and surfing as we saw more people doing that than exploring.

sandy hook gateway recreation area

sandy hook gateway recreation area

sandy hook gateway recreation area

OMG nude beach

Also worth your while to check out is the Sandy Hook Lighthouse. sandy hook gateway recreation area

There are three hiking trails and one short boardwalk within the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. We spent about 90 minutes walking around, but it looks like a great spot to get to run or bike over 10 miles.  Most of the trails are bike path or pavement.

sandy hook gateway recreation area

In all, we had a great time.  Not our typical “hike through woods” but never the less a great time. It would be a beautiful beach or trail to run if we lived closer.

Questions for you:

Have you ever been to a nude beach? (I actually have when I went on a cruise to the Carribean a while back).

Do you have any cool historical spots near you? 

Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands

Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands

As part of my “spring and summer” NJ bucket list, I want to go to more local parks.  Last year we went to a lot of northeast parks, but we’ve been feeling the shore this year!  I’ve already been to Turkey Swamp in Freehold as well as Cattus Island in Toms River.

Anyway, one park I’ve wanted to go to was Hartshorne Park in the Atlantic Highlands.  It’s a little bit of a treck (about 80 minutes), but one random weekday last week, we decided to drive up there.

Hartshorne Park is a lot hillier than anticipated.  I thought, oh it’s along the shore it will probably be flat.  That was not the case and my Garmin said I climbed about 80 flights of stairs.  Not that it matters, but don’t go in expecting a flat shore park.  Hartshorne is 794-acre site and overlooks the Navesink River.  After some research, I came to find out it’s one of the highest elevations along the Atlantic Coast.   If you are looking for a great park for walking, hiking, and even mountain biking (we saw many bikers), this park is for you!  No, the park is not paying me to tell you that, parks are free fun.

One thing drew my husband, and I here was the history of the park:

During World War II, batteries for artillery were built in Hartshorne Park to modernize coastal defense.  You can view several of the bunkers in the park.

With the rise of Airpower (go Air Force).  Military bunkers were not needed as much. During the Cold, War Hartshorne served as a missile defense site and command center.  It was equipped with radar, computers and electronic plotting devices.  All of these structures have been removed, but the bunkers are still in place.

The Hartshorne Park site is now listed officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Anyway-

As I mentioned, I hadn’t done a lot of research about the hiking in the park.  If I had, I would have known all of the historic sites are in the parking lot, and the park is much hillier than anticipated.  We got there around noon, and it took us just about 4 hours to hike 8 miles.  We stopped, we took photos, we looked at the history.  It was a beautiful park with many different views from the woods and deer, to the shore, as well as the military site.

We ended up hiking about 8 miles around the trails and then finished up by viewing the military site.

I didn’t expect so much green, but we did about 6 miles of hiking through that.  Before we came, I expected it almost to be on the water since that is what people took photos of!

Hartshorne park

A very large treeHartshorne park

Another large treeHartshorne park

Most of my photos are from the military site which is within 200 yards of the parking lot.

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

A Map of the site

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

The Bunker

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Now onto the hiking portion.  With the hiking, it goes deep into the pines as well as near the water.  There are so many different views!

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

In all, it was a beautiful hike in the forest as well as along the water.  I’m glad we finally made it up there!

Other Spring hikes I’ve Done:

Hiking Turkey Swamp in Freehold

Exploring Cattus Island in Toms River

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:

What was the last historical place you went?

Do you plan to go to the beach this summer?

Meal Planning for Two

Recently, my husband came home from another deployment.  Since living in New Jersey, it is either 6 or 7, but I can’t remember.  Homecomings are always great, and since then we’ve had an incredible time together.

Getting back into a routine (for both of us),  takes a couple of weeks.  It’s a bit of challenge going from one person to two again in the house.  Things like making dinner for two or meal ideas change.  With my husband’s short but frequent deployments, I never quite get into a routine of making dinner for one or two.  We’ve learned to cook more together and you can see more from culinary lab.

Recently, I discovered Frelii which is a monthly subscription service that provides a customized exercise and dietary plan based on your personal needs.  This post is sponsored by Frelii, but all thoughts, and opinions are my own.

What is Frelii?

Frelii is a preventative medicine is designed to give the best options for a healthier lifestyle.  Preventative means it’s not meant to diagnose a health condition or concern.  It does not take the place of a doctor or medical professional.

Like with running shoes, every person is unique and different from one another. Frelii aims to provide people with the knowledge, recipes, and even products to leave healthier lives.

For many people that is losing weight or even gaining weight.  For my husband and I, it was to prepare meals that were best fitted to our needs both physically and mentally but not as a dieting program!  Frelii helps each person differently.

After filling out a short questionnaire, each Frelii member is made aware of any potential health hazards and risk factors in their life.

They tailor meal plans, foods, and the entire program to what will help lead to a more balanced life. There is even an option to purchase vitamins and supplements that help your specific needs.  As a public health major in college, I appreciate Frelii recommends people get their blood work done before buying vitamins/supplements.  It never supports anything in the place of a doctor.

It took about 20 minutes to the complete the survey but when I finished it listed one of my health hazards as mood and depression.  It was spot on, as I’ve talked openly about having both anxiety and college through college.

Just as they provide meal plans, Frelii also recommends exercise plans for those who want it.  Personally, I have stuck with the meal and recipe side because I do prefer that for running but it’s nice to know it’s out there!

The Meals:

By far my favorite component of Frelii is the meal plans and new recipes they provide.  There are a lot of new and fun recipes that I would have never thought twice to try but once they recommended them…I figured might as well!

Another thing, I appreciate about Frelii is how quick meals can be made.  I don’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen and will also choose healthy, fast options, over the top dinners that take an hour or two to cook.  They are simple, easy, and affordable.  We could make time to spend an hour or two in the kitchen, we would instead make time for other things.

Here are a few meals we chose to make:

We’ve made several more and Frelii has a database of hundreds so there is something for everyone.

Peanut Pancakes Using Almond flour and Eggs:

Spinach, Kale, and Farmers Quiche

Roasted Cauliflower and Beets.

Before cooking cauliflower, I had one bad experience and never tried cooking it again.

roasted cauliflower and beets

Sausage and Spinach Pasta with Mozzarella

We’ve made several more and it’s been a fun and unique experience.  Thank you Frelii for sponsoring this post!

Questions for you:
How long on average do you spend to cook dinner?
If you or your spouse travels or is gone, do you find it difficult to get back into a routine?

 

Air Force Half Marathon (1:27.28)

Air Force Half Marathon (1:27.28)

A half marathon takes longer mentally to process than a 5k race recap.  So here we are almost a week after my first half marathon since April.  In case you don’t feel like reading, I had a good experience with the Air Force Half Marathon.

It was probably one of my best half marathons in the last year, despite not being my fastest, not that I was expecting a PR or anything close.  This particular recap has a lot more reflection, and a short recap too.

In the last year I’ve run several half marathons:

Rnr Philadelphia (1:27.37)
Runners World Half (1:24.17) probably my best race performance albeit not my fastest
Beat 539 Half (1:25:28)
Philadelphia Half (1:27.44)
Dallas Half (1:23.44)

Mercedes half (1:27.01)
Shamrock Half (1:26.49)
April Fools Half (1:26.17)

Half marathons are my bread and butter.  Unfortunately, the last year never showed the hard work I put into running. Last winter, I was in 1:21-1:22 shape, but I never raced like I was.  As I got slower throughout the spring, it ultimately led to my hiatus (which I needed both mentally and physically).

When my husband was selected to run the Air Force Marathon for his command (Air Mobility Command) several months ago, it was in the back of my mind that maybe I would run the half.  The summer flew by, and I found myself having done little running. Finally, in August, I had more time and decided I would start easing into running. In order to make it to the start of the Air Force half healthy, I forwent running one of my favorite halves: RnR Va Beach a few weeks prior (2 half marathons in doable when I’m training appropriately…but that fitness is not there right now).

We left the Thursday before. We stopped at my inlaws house in central PA and headed to Dayton, Ohio that Friday.  Looking back, we should have left earlier and been in Dayton that Friday.  As we got to Wright Patterson, there was traffic, and we nearly missed picking up packets and my husband’s uniform.  When I say we were one of the last people to pick things up, it was close. We also ended up walking about 2 miles between 7-8:30pm.

Nothing about that is ideal for a morning race, but my only goal was to support my husband and enjoy 13.1 miles.  Whatever happened to me, happened to me.

The morning was uneventful, and we made it to the start by 6:30 (for his 7:30…my 8:30 start). He went to the special Air Force tent, did whatever he does to warm up, and my mother in law and myself headed to the start to spectate.

Not without running over to the start and taking a selfie with him.  (There were no corrals, and everything for this massive race is self-seeded, so I didn’t impact anyone’s race).

The marathoners went off, I relaxed for an hour, and per usual randomly chatted with people.  I felt no need to warm up considering it was my longest run by 3 miles since April.

Before I knew it, it was my turn to head to the start!  I went to the start, and we were off.  I had no goal but to finish, and let my body do what it wanted to do.  Typically I’ve run my first half back from a break or injury between 1:30-1:33 so that’s what I expected.

The first mile was packed and a blur.  I saw several females in front and plenty of males.  I hit in a 6:44 and was both surprised and pumped.

Then next few miles, I grabbed Gatorade, and it felt hot.  I started running with several men who were also competing in the MAJCOM challenge.  One thing I can count on with the Air Force, is they are usually as chatty as I am.  We were all just talking for 3 miles about everything from life, to work, to moving.  Our miles ranged in pace from 6:29-6:40 and clicked off quickly.  We passed 2 women and several other men too.  I was feeling strong and confident, but I also knew this wasn’t a 5k and I had a long way to go.  I was unpredictable after mile 10.

We hit the halfway point in exactly 43 minutes.  The course had zero (and I mean zero) shade, and it was already above 70 degrees and humid.  I was glad I wore a hat and sunglasses.  My legs weren’t feeling bad or fatigued, but the heat was starting to affect me.Air force half marathon dayton ohio me running

Around mile 9, we climbed an overpass, and I wasn’t expecting any climbs or any hills at all.  I hadn’t done research but mentally had assumed all Air Force races must take place on flat runways and flat bases.  That thought process didn’t really have any basis and was in fact, foolish.

The last four miles of the Air Force half is harder part of the course.  I looked ahead at the hill and saw one female, and just tunnel focused on passing her and staring at the top.  I did both, caught my breath, and continued.  That was my slowest mile, in 6:46.

At the 10 mile point, I told myself: the half marathons are your bread and butter.  All that’s left is the 5k butter.  The 5k I haven’t run in the months.  The 5k I’m known in my best fitness to hammer and pass people.  I wasn’t going to let it break me, and I felt too good.  I hit the 10 mile in 1:07 and told myself a 1:27 is in your wheelhouse today.

Despite not researching the next three miles were hilly, I was determination to get there.  You enter back onto to Wright Patterson Base around mile 12.  They begin the finishers shoot at mile 12.  Mile 12. I told myself I wouldn’t even care if the course was short.  I knew it wouldn’t be, but my legs would be cool with less running. Air force half marathon dayton ohio me running

Being in a mile long finishers shoot is soul crushing.  You are alone, spectators around, and you’re struggling. Maybe you aren’t struggling so you look strong, but I was as I should be.  One woman outkicked me in the last half mile.  Too bad, she won our age group and was the fourth female.  I didn’t have the kick to catch her.

I crossed the finish in 1:27.28 and fifth female overall.  It far exceeded the expectation I had for the race. Not my fastest half but not my slowest either, but definitely one of my most fun.  The heat affected the half marathons but definitely affected the full marathoners much more.  My husband ran a 3:15 and my father in law squeezed into BQ in a 3:58.

Apparently, I decided to nap and close my eyes right there…

I would love to run the Air Force Half again when I’m in better fitness because I do believe it’s a course I would excel at.  I have a feeling we will probably be back, but T might be competing for a different MAJCOM command.

I’ve recovered moderately well from the half, and for the next five weeks, I’ll focus on 5ks, followed by the Runners World Half.

Questions for you:
Do you typically talk during races?
I’m a talker during halves and fulls…not 5ks

Two Years of Marriage

Two years ago was the best day of my life because my husband and I got married.  Everything went perfectly, and there is nothing we would have wanted differently.

As most people know, he is in the military and has been gone for almost exactly one of those years.  While his deployments aren’t long (about 2 months), they are frequent and so are his other trips.  I won’t say it’s been easy and there have been plenty of hard days. I will say we are still as happy as the day we met.

Today I knew today I wanted to post about our anniversary but had no idea what to post.  I finally settled on a “how we met post”.  I’m always interested to see how other people met their significant other so I thought I would share.

So How Did We Meet?

My husband and I met during college cross country season in 2011.  We met at a scrimmage race between our respected two universities.

Tim ended up winning the scrimmage race for men, and I won for females. After the scrimmage, we talked for a while and went on a run a few weeks later.   Cross country season went by, and we still chatted after the season.  During this time, I was coming back from my first serious running injury a tibial stress fracture.  Tim did multiple sports and was getting ready for ski season.  Since cross country was over, and he was no longer running competitively, running at a slower pace didn’t matter.  I was running easy after my injury and he was running easy just to run.

YAY an old school college picture.

Eventually, after several runs, we hung out outside of running. When the semester ended, we both went to our hometowns for winter break. Tim drove down to Virginia Beach and visited for New Years.

Later in the spring, we officially started “officially dating”.  I was blogging at the time, and I don’t think I even mentioned on the blog: OMG you guys, new boy in my life”.  It’s been a theme of the past 6 years, we’ve been happy but he isn’t a large part of the blog.

In May of 2012, we both graduated college and decided to try doing a long distance relationship.  Our options at that point were to try and do a distance relationship or break up.

Tim went to Air Force pilot school in Texas, and I began working in Oswego, NY.  During that time, we both learned a lot about ourselves, interests and hobbies.  We went just over 6 months without seeing each other.  It was one of the hardest times of our relationship but worth it.  The first time we saw each other again was that Thanksgiving, and it was as if nothing had changed.

My first visit to Texas

After Thanksgiving, we saw each other again for Christmas, then in March and in May. It was a lot easier than the first few months.  After nearly a year of distance, we made the decision I would move to Texas. As much as I enjoyed my job in Oswego, I wanted to continue my relationship with Tim and we had to eventually move (he did not have that choice with me).

In Texas, they have these for decoration…

Winning a growler at a half marathon in Texas

Tim graduated his pilot training, and we were told we would be moving to New Jersey. Neither of us knew anything about NJ (except people drive very quickly on the Turnpike) in October 2014.

We’ve now lived in New Jersey 3.5 years and I truly say I love it.  I’ve made incredible friends, I enjoy my job and there is always something to do.  We are only a few miles from Philadelphia and short drive from both of our parents, New York City and Baltimore.

On April 1, 2014, Tim proposed to me.  It was exactly what I wanted, low key and at our house.  We are low key, and I could not have asked for a better proposal.  To be honest, as much as we love running, proposing at a race or in front of hundreds of people is not either of our scene.

 

Engagement photo

Even though we lived in New Jersey, we made the decision to get married in my hometown area in Norfolk, Virginia.  We spent a year wedding planning and got married on April 12, 2015.  While planning a wedding further away was more difficult, it wasn’t as stressful because we both have such supportive and helpful parents.  We couldn’t have dreamed for a better day.

After our wedding, we took a few days to relax and went straight on our honeymoon.  We decided to spend a few days in Key West and go on a cruise in the Carribean.  It was a great vacation, and it was perfect.

Then a few days after we got home, he was deployed for a while.  For the first 6 months of our marriage, he was gone for just over 4.  Afterward, he was home for a bit more, but in the past 2 years, he has been gone for over a year.

Throughout the first two years of marriage, we have learned a lot about ourselves and each other.  Even though I grew up as a military child, being a spouse much different.  It’s not always easy, but the time we do have together makes it worth it.  I’m also thankful for my family and friends who help me get by.

As most people know, he is away now.  We might talk today, we might not.  It doesn’t mean I love my husband any less.  I could not ask for a better person in my life.

Flying together

Hiking Bear Mountain and when we actually saw a bear

Here are some other posts about my husband and I (or just my husband): 
Wedding Post
Honeymoon
Flying Together
Tim’s Recap of the Mercedes Marathon

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